Por Larranaga Belicosos Extra… Edicion Regionales 2008

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There’s something about the color of this cigar that tells you that it’s time in the humidor since 2008 has been well spent.  The slightly darker wrapper here and there reveals that oils in the tobacco during the fermentation process have been subtly altering the color and presentation of this Asia Pacifico release.  When this cigar first came on to the scene it was a nice medium strength Belicoso but had a slightly harsh final third, something that happens to many young cigars, but all that has changed with over 3 years of rest.

Pre-light draw I tasted last night had an earthy flavor mixed with a bit of woodiness and the draw offered the perfect amount of resistance, there was no wind out on the deck last night so I was hoping for a perfect burn.  The cigar started out being quite mellow and smooth, even the first few puffs, but developed into a creamy caramel profile that stayed well into the first third until a bit of citrus started to appear with a wonderful barnyard addition to the flavors.  The second third revealed some cinnamon and along with the caramel I was in Heaven.

This is a 5 1/2 inch 52 ring gauge cigar so I expected to get at least an hour and a half of slow patient smoking and I came in at just under that time.   The aroma of the smoke was beautiful in the air and I heard a few comments from a few folks that, they too, loved the smell.  I think that the Gold band mixed with the silver and red striped band decorate this 2008 gem with a great flash and class, I always get excited about cigars that are rare and in limited number.

Aged Vegas Robaina Clasicos

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Anyone who smokes cigars, collects cigars, ages cigars, tirelessly fusses over the humidors will truly appreciate the cigar I want to direct my attention to today…  This is a Vegas Robaina Clasicos from 1999, over a decade old and a beautiful handmade Cervantes that is of bold medium strength with a perfectly balanced profile of creamy taste, spicy woody notes and dark chocolate.   I’ve only smoked one from this box last year, so although I can remember that this was a superlative cigar, the exact flavors will have to be re-visited tonight to be able to explain their true identity.

Here is one reason, again, to keep a log of all Cubans smoked and record your experiences from cigar to cigar… Well… I’m not sure why I don’t keep a log, I think its because I know I’ll be smoking more cigars and that I’ll be able to expand on my cigar experience as the years go by… Plus… I’ve never had the urge to write down all of the information as I’m smoking a cigar. I do try to keep all of the bands and frame them because as time goes on my den is going to be a tribute to all of the cigars I’ve had.

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Cohiba Esplendidos…

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I watched a movie not long ago and noticed that this one character would smoke cigars, which appeared to be a Cohiba Esplendidos by my guess… If it were so and an individual would want to appear dignified, powerful and show great taste, then why not a cigar of this stature, a better prop could never be found.

As I look at the above picture, I remember moments smoking these cigars when conditions were right and I would have a cigar who’s time had come and a perfect balance of hay, pepper, dark chocolate, cedar and coffee dance together on your palate as this Julieta No 2 burns down in a wonderful symphony.   It is very hard to get better cigars than this very popular 7 inch by 47 ring gauge Churchill from Cohiba.

These cigars are made from the best leaf from the Vuelta Abajo tobacco region and rolled by some of the best torcedores in Cuba, I have never had any sort of draw or burn issues with this cigar.  This is the type of cigar that is usually first in line to become counterfeited and copied by very inferior replicas that taste terrible and leave you wondering what sort of barely flammable ingredients were included in the production of these fakes.  Do whatever you can to make sure you get the real Esplendidos , go online and study the sometimes very subtle differences in appearance of both cigar AND packaging.  Also remember that these cigars cost a bit more than other premium Cuban cigars, so if you’re offered these at an extremely slashed rate then you’ll be heading into dangerous territory.

I’ve noticed that Vancouver Cigar is offering boxes of 10 Esplendidos at a %40 discount this summer.  This is a great price for authentic Cuban cigars…

Partagas Serie D No 5 Edicion Limitada

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The picture above reveals that its late afternoon and I’m sitting in a car, enjoying a great cigar after a day of golf.  Well, there is no real golf reference in the shot, you’ll simply have to trust me on this one.  I’m a big lover of smoking in the car and tend to choose my best cigars for this environment so opting for the Partagas Serie D No 5 from 2008 was a great choice.

I’ve smoked a few of these in the last few years and have noticed that it’s profile, although a bit similar to the Partagas Series D No 4, is complex, super sweet and has no shortage of strength.  I’ve smoked boxes of the “D 4” and many others in the Partagas brand and have noticed a similarity in taste with a lot of the different sizes but this particular D 5 may have been one of the best Partagas cigars I’ve ever had the pleasure to smoke.  The beautiful, almost Maduro wrapper gave this cigar an unusual sweetness that stayed with the cigar until the end.  I employed a lot of patience and waited a lifetime between puffs and was rewarded with a rich rich dark chocolate with sweet strong espresso notes from start to finish.   I’m not convinced that there was a great evolution of flavors as this cigar burned but the quality of flavors more than made up for it… Very delicious !!

I’ve paid a lot of attention to the different reviews that this cigar has received since it was produced and it’s gotten it’s fair share of less than stellar reviews.  Why?? Don’t ask me !!  I’ve found that the years have been extra good to this Petit Robusto with it’s 50 ring gauge and length of 4.3 inches.  A lot can happen to a cigar in a humidor for 3 years and this particular stogie has developed into a real contender and one that will leave you wishing you had many more.  The fact that it is a bit shorter than a lot of cigars I smoke also led me to believe that as the cigar burned down, bitterness never entered into the picture and was very tasty well into the final millimeters.

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An even burn, great draw and an explosion of rich dark flavors left me satisfied and thrilled with the thoughts of lighting one up again …….. in the car….

Partagas …Super Partagas

supart So last week I spent a few days in Nanaimo on beautiful Vancouver Island.  Anyone visiting Vancouver for the first time should always make the effort to take the ferry over to the Island on our west coast.  The capital city of our province is NOT Vancouver but Victoria, which is on the island and it is a very clean manicured city with stately homes, sunshine and a great university. Nanaimo is about an hour’s drive away and has great scenery and a thriving art and music scene.

I am always curious about what different cigar and smoke shops carry whenever I travel in Canada, so a few days ago I stopped into a small smoke shop and spotted a Humidor with Cuban cigars proudly displayed, which always gets me excited.  I found that the shop had the usual suspects of Montecristo No 2’s and number 4’s.. A few different sizes of H. Upmanns and Cohibas were also present but what got my attention was a box of “Cremas”, wrapped in cellophane and sitting on the top shelf.

The first thing I did was look at the side of the Partagas box and saw that these were Partagas Super Partagas cigars with slightly yellowed cellophane so I instantly went for the box and examined the bottom.  ’01 was all I needed to see so I chose a few and bolted out of the store, ran for my car and rummaged through my luggage for my cigar cutter and torch.  Since I was on my way out of town, I knew that I would have some driving time to try out one of these aged beauties and I couldn’t wait for the first puff.

I don’t know that much about the “Super Partagas” and really haven’t smoked that many, so I didn’t really have a reference point but upon lighting the cigar I noticed one thing right away, the 10 years in the humidor mellowed this Cremas ( ring gauge 40 and 5 1/2 ” ) and I was initially met with slight cedar and creamy coffee.  Simple would be the first word I’d pick when trying to describe the profile of this cigar since there wasn’t a ton of complexity here but I was very impressed with the elegance of the moment and the building of strength as the cigar burned down.

I can’t stress enough, the importance of checking the date stamped on the bottom of Cuban cigar boxes whenever you find yourself in a cigar store as you shop for a smoke.  Now and then you will discover that there are real treasures to be found if you look carefully and I felt that I had come across something special with the Super Partagas. Any cigar that has been kept in a humidor for a decade will only improve and evolve into a fine smoke.. It just takes patience, or in my case, good luck!

Hoyo de Monterrey Double Coronas VS Partagas Lusitanias

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When driving through the mountains in Alberta, Canada just outside of the small town of Banff but still well in Canada’s National Park on July 2, 2011, I thought of a great pair of cigars to light up with my friend Tom.  We were driving from Calgary to Vancouver that morning and since we had quite a few hours together in his car that day, I thought that comparing 2 incredible Prominentes from 2 of Cuba’s more well known cigar brands, Hoyo de Monterrey and Partagas.

I clipped and handed the Lusitanias to Tom and I then proceeded to clip the HDM Double Coronas for myself… It was a very even decision concerning which cigars either of us wanted since these 2 cigars both stand proudly in their brand as a popular seller with those who like bigger cigars, these being both a 49 ring gauge and  7.6 inches long…. I knew the next few hours driving down the road would be very entertaining, informative and hugely satisfying.

The first difference I noticed was the draw and that the Lusitanias gave a bit more resistance than the HDM but the Partagas was a year or so newer and slightly more tightly rolled, no problem though.  The first puff from both cigars were not strong at all and almost instantly mellowed and provided a medium strength smoke into the first third… The flavor profile couldn’t have been more different in that the Lusitanias was considerably more of a sweeter smoke at this stage and the Double Coronas from HDM was a woodier profile… Both Tom and myself were trying to identify different flavors in both cigars but it became clear that the more complex profile belonged to the Lusitanias and trying to describe all that we were tasting in that cigar became difficult because of our different palates…

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I smoked the HDM happily for the next few hours and saw the flavors subtly change from third to third as this Prominente proceeded to gain power and strength… The Partagas was equally as entertaining but kept that initial sweetness we noticed for the length of the cigar’s burn… That is what is so marvelous about Partagas, it builds in strength but stays smooth and flavorful without ever getting bitter or hard to smoke… The HDM Double Coronas was one of those cigars that you hated to see burn away because of the elegance of the moment.

Driving in your car down the road gives you the best opportunity to smoke in a controlled environment where time goes easily by and you get a real accurate glimpse of what cigar makers want you to taste… Cars are warm, you have control of how much wind ( if any ) you want and the only danger is dropping ashes on your clothes…. Hey, its only a car!